CHICAGO • The white Chicago policeman charged with murder in the death of a black teenager he shot 16 times spent his first day in custody on Wednesday confined to a jail hospital ward as calm prevailed in a city braced for civil unrest over a newly issued video of the slaying.
Five people were arrested late on Tuesday in mostly peaceful demonstrations following the release of graphic footage showing 17-year- old Laquan McDonald being gunned down in the middle of a street on Oct 20 last year, as he was walking away from police who had confronted him.
A new round of protests on Wednesday at the Chicago's criminal courthouse and City Hall were sparsely attended, though members of the City Council's black caucus again demanded the resignation of police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
President Barack Obama, who hails from Chicago and began his political career there, said on Facebook that he was "deeply disturbed" by the video, but "personally grateful to the people of my hometown for keeping protests peaceful".
Investigation of the case comes amid a national debate on race and police tactics sparked by a series of high-profile killings of unarmed black men at the hands of mainly white law enforcement officers in several US cities in the past two years, leading to widespread demonstrations and some violent unrest.
Police officer Jason Van Dyke began his incarceration under protective custody at a hospital facility segregated from the general population of Cook County Jail, the county sheriff's office said.
No information was given about his medical condition.
It was the first time a Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty fatality in more than 30 years, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The authorities in Chicago, a city of 2.7 million people, had girded for the possibility of civil unrest on a scale seen in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, but the city remained mostly tranquil by Wednesday night. A group of between 100 and 200 protesters began a march at the start of the evening rush hour in Chicago's busy downtown area, and were still on the streets over five hours later despite the onset of rain. The racially mixed crowd chanted "16 shots" and "Hands up, don't shoot".
There were unconfirmed social media accounts of some arrests, but police declined to confirm or deny the reports. Another protest planned earlier in the evening farther south outside police headquarters fizzled out after only a couple of dozen people turned out.
Additional rallies were planned for the annual Thanksgiving Day parade yesterday, and another for today.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE